Gentlemen, start your engines!

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With the temperature finally dipping below 80 for the first time in months, a nice cool day can only mean one thing– Preseason football must be right around the corner. The Detroit Lions kick off the season tomorrow night at Ford Field against the Cincinnati Bengals. Finally, the longest off-season in NFL history will come to an end. Actually, it was the same length as the others, but with Lockout talk replacing real football news, it just seems like it lasted forever.

It will have been 222 days since the Honolulu blue and silver have taken the field in combat and I have only one more day to mark off my calendar until the real thing arrives. I know a lot of fans discount the pre-season as hogwash, but I love watching the young guys and rookies to see what they’re made of. During the REAL games when they’re shooting real bullets we won’t get much of a chance to see the back ups in action. Now is the time for those guys to make a strong enough impression to make the team. Who can forget the first time we saw Ndamukong Suh in his first game against the Cleveland Browns last year when he tried to rip quarterback Jake Delhomme‘s head off of his body? First impressions mean a lot.

There is also a certain style to ENJOYING a pre-season game. Like not seeing TOO much of the starters for one. I want to see exactly one great catch out of Megatron and that’s all I need to see out of him for the day. A couple of drives, Thank you Mr. Stafford, have a seat. After number 90 crushes somebody, he can take the rest of the day off. My enjoyablity factor soars after those guys are out of the game.

Tonight will also give us our first glimpse of the pair of running backs the Lions acquired recently. Jerome Harrison and Mike Bell will be part of the battle to see who helps out Javid Best in the backfield. I love the pick of Mikel Leshoure and think he’ll be as ALL-Pro in this league and regard him as a bonus draft pick next year. BUT…, since he hasn’t played a down yet, there’s really no hole to fill, just someone else gets the opportunity to shine, that’s all. Believe me, I didn’t take the news well at all when I first heard it while driving my car. The dashboard is still moaning.

Injuries are a part of the game and this is the biggest and largest team sport there is, ONE player CAN’T take down a GOOD team for the season. The NFL history book is littered with teams that overcame odds due to injuries to win titles. Didn’t the Champion Green Bay Packers have trouble with the running back position last year? They couldn’t keep one healthy all year. In fact I think the ball boy got a couple of snaps.

One last reminder, during the Miami Dolphins perfect 17-0 season in 1972, they lost their starting quarterback Bob Griese to a injury very early in the season. Back up Earl Morrall won the rest of the games that season until the play-offs started and Bob Griese reclaimed his starting job. They didn’t miss a beat. What happens in the beginning of August isn’t going to matter diddly squat in December.

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